BENGALURU: A Bengaluru-based aerospace startup TeamIndus, aiming to be the country’s first to send a rover to the moon and plant the Indian flag on its surface on January 26, 2018 ( Republic Day), has just secured a commercial launch contract with the Indian Space Research Organisation.
With this, the TeamIndus will be the first private entity to exclusively use India’s main rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The team has been granted a three-day launch window starting December 28, 2017, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. If successful, the rover will land on Moon in January 2018.
This is being done with the intent of clinching the prestigious $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE. The Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP), popularly known as Moon 2.0, is a space competition being conducted by the XPrize Foundation and is sponsored by Google.
The competition aims to see a team land a rover on the moon’s surface, travel more than 500 meters in any direction, and transmit high-definition imagery from the surface of the moon. Team Indus is one of the 16 teams that are in the race for the Google Lunar Xprize challenge (and the only Indian team to do so).
“A dedicated PSLV for TeamIndus is testimony to the progressive policies adopted by the Department of Space and Technology preparedness of the engineering team. For TeamIndus this was a critical step in realising our objective of creating the most inclusive space program to date. As part of our #HarIndianKaMoonshot program we are delighted to invite young engineers and aspiring scientists to create an experiment that will fly on board our Moon mission,” said, Rahul Narayan, Team Indus Fleet Commander in a statement to Express.
A startup which began as a group of five people has swiftly grown into a team of 85 over the last five years. Fifteen of the members are retired ISRO scientists and the team is led by Rahul Narayan, a Delhi-based IT professional. The team is backed by the who’s-who of Indian business leaders, including Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Ratan Tata of the Tata Group, and Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal of Flipkart.